American carmaker, Ford, has witnessed a healthy growth in its popularity in India. Although, the company's start off in India wasn't in its favour particularly due to the cost of ownership of having a Ford vehicle. Maintaining a Ikon or an Escort back in the day was no less a task than clearing a pending credit card bill. In fact, one would mount an overdue amount if he owned a Ford back then. However, after the new strategy of changing only the part which is required has put Ford India back in the game with the big players and their premium hatchback the Figo gained a considerable popularity particularly due to its handling characteristics. What the Figo missed such as large alloy wheels and an even better suspension setup, was added in the Sports variants available with the 1.2 litre petrol and the 1.5 litre diesel engine options. We happened to drive this little sporty hatchback from Ahmedabad to Delhi and the only doubt was, will it be comfortable enough for a 900 plus kilometre haul with just one stopover. Here is our take on the Figo S and the route we took.
As explained earlier, the Figo is a impressive driver's car. In the new S or Sports version, the premium hatchback gets a stiffer suspension setup owing to shorter coil springs, slightly lower ground clearance over the standard model and a larger 15-inch alloy wheel with wider 195/55 section tyres ( the stock version has 175/65 section). A stiffer suspension setup simply means the ride quality would not be as comfortable as the standard version of the hatchback over bad roads. After landing in Ahmedabad and taking the keys to the Figo S, the plan was simple – rest for a day in Gujarat's capital, leave in the morning and take the route Google Maps shows you. The suggested route (door-to-door) was 984 km from Ahmedabad to Palanpur, onwards to Ajmer, Udaipur bypass, Jaipur and finally Delhi. Estimated time was approximately 14 hours and 54 mins without any stoppages. Most of the highway sections through this route are brilliant and some of them don't have sign boards for speed limits. Although, these stretches are impeccable, the driver needs to be careful about livestock while travelling over unfenced section. Now, that the route has been discussed, let's see what the Figo S offers in terms of cosmetic changes.
The Figo S is based on the Titanium version along with a black coloured roof, alloy wheels, front grille and wing mirrors. Other subtle changes on the outside include S badging on the silver strip running across the length of the car and the same subtle scheme used on the rear bumper. In terms of its looks, the Figo S is spot on and exudes a sporty character. Move inside the cabin and the all-black interior scheme that is offered in the Titanium trim has been carried forward. The only change to the Sports variant is red stitching on the steering wheel, fabric seats, fabric section of the door panel and the gear lever cover. The best part which I liked personally is the Ford MyDock which is essentially a phone holder just above the plethora of buttons for the infotainment unit. On can mount their smartphone horizontally and you end up (technically) have a touchscreen system which is available with navigation. This feature is available on its competitors as well, however, it has its limitations such as downloading maps on an SD card or not showing real travel time. Agreed that traveling over such a long route will chew up mobile data, but, it will surely keep your loved ones informed about how much time it will take you and your current location. The Figo S with us was a diesel unit mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The unit generates 99 hp of power at 3,750 rpm and 215 Nm of torque between 1,750 rpm and 3,000 rpm. The engine is the same as the standard version but with slightly lesser mileage (more on the fuel efficiency bit later).
Starting off at 11:30 am, the route planned showed my arrival in Delhi around 04:00 am the next day. Once we reached the highway, keeping three digit speeds throughout most sections of Gujarat was easy. The motor was effortlessly pulling through the extreme heat while keeping the cabin cool. For reference, the indicated outside temperature on the Figo S at noon was 52 degrees Celcius while airconditioner's temperature was set to its lowest available parameter, LO. Seating for a six foot plus passenger was also adequate and there wasn't a reason to feel tired at all. The stiffer suspension setup is not tuned only for handling but offers impressive comfort as well. In fact, it is the right balance between comfort and handling which makes this car an even more enticing buy. Over bad roads the Figo S was mildly unsettling but the stiffer setup meant there would be more stopovers involved. To my surprise neither did I, nor the car broke a sweat even till about 06:00 pm in the evening. Although, occasional loo breaks were taken to ease out the bladder as well as stretch out. In fact, that was about the time we entered Rajasthan. A stop at a local dhaba refreshed me enough for the rest of the 500 km ride ahead of me. After exactly one hour, the trip resumed and with the sun now setting in, the road ahead would be more taxing due to limited visibility of the night. The illumination from the single halogen headlamp setup along with fog lamps is as good as its competitors, but, the throw from these units is wider which provides a better visibility of the horizon.
Now comes the most critical part – fuel efficiency. After covering a distance of 974 kms door-to-door, the Figo S returned 20.12 kmpl where the indicated figure on the multi-info screen was 17.8 kmpl. The total expenses for fuel were Rs 2,900 which technically makes it cheaper than a IIAC fare of the Swarna Jayanti Rajdhani Express as well as faster than the limited stop train which costs Rs 2,910 per person. Apart from the fuel, additional costs included Rs 933 of toll booths. So, here is a hatchback that offers impressive handling characteristics, is fuel-efficient and comfortable over long hauls. In a crux, the Figo S is absolutely worth the extra money that it commands of Rs 50,000 more than the standard version of the premium hatchback.
Distance covered: 974 kms
Fuel efficiency: 17.8 kmpl (indicated), 20.12 kmpl (actual)
Time Taken: 17 hours 42 mins including delays and one major stopover
Cost of travel: Rs 4,200 including toll, fuel and food
Video: Ford Figo S Diesel First Drive Review
Prices of the Ford Figo Standard and Sports versions
Ford Figo Standard Petrol: Rs 5.82 lakh
Ford Figo S Petrol: Rs 6.32 lakh
Ford Figo Standard Diesel: Rs 6.71 lakh
Ford Figo S Diesel: Rs 7.21 lakh
All prices ex-showroom, Delhi.